29 April 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

This recipe came out of a conversation with my colleague Margaret, who has established her own recipe based on the tips from her Polish mother and grandmother, as well as her Italian mother-in-law.  My recipe is based on her instructions, but with a few moderations.  She prefers her soup as a broth, whereas I like mine with more 'stuff' in it.  To each their own.  I usually just eyeball the measurements of everything I add, so the amounts below are approximate.  Next time I make this, I'm thinking of adding some broccoli.

2 large chicken legs
2 tablespoons of vegetable broth base (I use an organic one that my Mom gave me)
1 white onion, peeled
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 or 5 carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 or 2 parmesan cheese rinds (though just a 1-inch knob of the actual cheese will do in a pinch)
1/2 cup (ish) of white wine (whatever you've got)
Sea salt and pepper
Optional: a tea pouch full of allspice (I've never had it on hand to add, but M says it's great)
Uncooked bow-tie pasta (or whichever noodle you prefer)

Bring a large soup pot full of water to a boil.  Add the chicken legs.  Boil for thirty to forty-five minutes.  (Margaret suggested a full hour, but by that point the chicken ends up being shredded mush.  She always removes the chicken pieces, so it doesn't matter to her, but I leave mine in and find that they hold together better if I cut down the boiling time.)

Add the broth base, the whole onion and garlic (if you're fancy, you can cut slivers into the onion with a knife and jam the garlic in), the carrots, the celery, the parmesan, and the allspice.  Add a generous amount of freshly ground sea salt and pepper, to taste.

Let everything boil for about an hour on lower heat with the the lid off the pot.  Remove the chicken bones and skin.  Taste the soup to see if it needs more salt or pepper.  Add a few generous splashes of white wine (also to taste).

Add the pasta, allowing it to cook until al dente.  I prefer letting the pasta cook in the soup because the starches will seep into the broth and help thicken it up.  If you prefer a clearer, thinner broth, then perhaps cooking the pasta in another pot first would be better.

As far as leftovers go, I find that the pasta will absorb a lot of the liquid from the broth when I store this in the fridge.  It doesn't really stress me out - I just add a bit of water whenever I'm reheating the soup.  In the end, it tends to be a rather thick soup.

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